By Tara Isabella Burton
A major evangelical leader has spoken in defense of US-Saudi relations after the apparent killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate, saying that America has more important things — like arms deals — to focus on.
Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, appeared on its flagship television show The 700 Club on Monday to caution Americans against allowing the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia to deteriorate over Khashoggi’s death.
“For those who are screaming blood for the Saudis — look, these people are key allies,” Robertson said. While he called the faith of the Wahabists — the hardline Islamist sect to which the Saudi Royal Family belongs — “obnoxious,” he urged viewers to remember that “we’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of…it’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.”
Robertson praised the approach of President Donald Trump, who has publicly cast doubt on the allegations against the Saudis, comparing them to those of sexual assault against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh earlier this month. On Wednesday, after the New York Times reported that it had obtained audio of Khashoggi being tortured, murdered, and dismembered inside the consulate, Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported that Trump said that he had requested the recording, “if it exists,” later adding “I’m not sure that it exists.”
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